CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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When you can’t hear at Mass

HONG KONG (SE): The Hong Kong Catholic Pastoral Association for the Deaf celebrated its 40th anniversary with a Mass celebrated at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre for the Disabled in Homantin on November 4.
During the Mass, members of the association promised to spread the gospel among the hearing-impaired and work to embrace them in the wider Church by promoting the use of sign language at various activities.
The Mass was celebrated by the vicars general, Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, the spiritual director of the association; and Father Benedict Lam Cho-ming, together with several priests and around 100 people.
Fan So-ngo, the president of the association, said that as the only Catholic group for the hearing-impaired in Hong Kong, there is a need to put more effort into spreading the gospel to non-believers, particularly among the hearing-impaired.
Fan also pointed out that there is a great need to encourage a wider use of sign language at Church activities so as to be more inclusive of the hearing-impaired people.
She expressed her message in sign language as an example to guests of how to overcome physical barriers in communication, while a volunteer gave an instantaneous translation.
Maryknoll Father Charles Dittmeier, who previously worked among the hearing-impaired for 10 years, made a special trip from Cambodia to attend the ceremony. 
He said he is happy to be reunited with the people of the association and see the way they continue to support each other.
Ophelia Chan Chiu-ling, the former president of the Diocesan Commission for Pastoral Services to the Disabled, said the pastoral centre will encourage the hearing-impaired to attend Mass to promote the unity of the Church, as well as promote awareness among others of the special needs of various people.
Florence Leung Yuen-wai, the centre officer of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre for the Disabled, said there are over 100 members in the Pastoral Association for the Deaf, among whom 30 to 50 regularly take part in the group activities held with the support of around nine voluntary sign language interpreters.
Leung said some people have joined the activities of the association after meeting with hearing-impaired people so as to give them support, while some sign language teachers also bring their students to the centre for them to get to know more about the group.
Leung expressed her appreciation for the support the association is given at diocesan activities, as seats for their members are reserved and liturgy schedules are often sent to interpreters in advance.
Masses with sign language interpretation are held at the pastoral centre on Princess Margaret Road on the first Sunday and the second Saturday of the month, those on the other weekends are at St. Patrick’s in Lok Fu and St. Andrew’s in Tseung Kwan O.

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